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Picking Big 12 dark horses: Texas and TCU are poised to surprise this season

(CBS Sports)
We've reached the time of year in which we pretend to know a lot more about college football than we actually do. I'm not just talking about myself and other members of the media but fans as well. We've never seen any of the teams play in their current forms, yet somehow we all believe we know exactly what's going to happen.
We vote on who will win their divisions and conferences. We pick teams that will earn spots in the College Football Playoff. We will be wrong. A lot. It comes with the territory, and it's part of what makes college football so exciting.
When trying to figure out a sport that features so many teams (130 this year) all trying different things with the same ultimate goal in mind, surprises are going to happen. Every year we see a team that the general public had low expectations for coming into the year exceed them. It's going to happen again this year, that much I know. I just don't know which team it will be, but I'm going to try to figure it out.

When it comes to looking for a dark horse team, there are a few things to consider. Veteran teams have a chance to excel, and I'm not just talking about teams with a lot of returning starters. Having plenty of starters coming back is nice, but I'm talking about experience on the depth chart as a whole. I want teams with a lot of seniors and juniors in the two-deep.
I also like teams with experienced offensive lines. As important as quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers can be for an offense, replacing them is a lot less difficult when you have a strong, veteran offensive line doing all the dirty work for you at the line of scrimmage.
Then there are a few other factors. Things like a favorable schedule and it never hurts to have talent on the roster, either. When I look at all these factors and try to fit them together, I believe I can get a sense of which teams are better positioned to be that dark horse. So in this post, I'm going to look at three potential dark horse teams in the Big 12 this season.
Now obviously, when we talk about dark horses, we're naming teams that aren't expected to contend for a conference title. So I've eliminated Oklahoma and Oklahoma State from consideration. After that, things look pretty wide open in the Big 12.
And of the eight remaining teams in the conference, these are the three I believe to be the best positioned to step up and surprise us in 2017, listed in alphabetical order.

 For more go to CBS Sports

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